UPDATED: 12:08 p.m. ET, Jan. 25, 2021 —
On Monday President Biden signed an order reversing which barred transgendered persons from serving in the military, according to NBC News, an action carried out by the former administration.
“Allowing all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform is better for the military and better for the country because an inclusive force is a more effective force,” according to a statement from the White House. “Simply put, it’s the right thing to do and is in our national interest.”
The execution directs newly confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to create a policy that prohibits discrimination against troops based on their gender identity. Within 60 days the Pentagon will be required to produce a report detailing the progress on the new executive action, USA Today reports.
Austin said he was in full support of reversing the action during his confirmation hearing.
“If you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve, and you can expect that I will support that throughout,” he said.
The first action includes a series of provisions pertaining to food insecurity. Biden will urge the Agriculture Department to increase the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer, or P-EBT program by 15 percent. The P-EBT program provides free or reduced lunches to families who qualified for the program when school was in regular session prior to the pandemic. He will also seek increases to SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, one of Trump’s targets which he routinely sliced during his war on the underserved and poor while in office.
In addition to working on food insecurity the order will address the stimulus payments for qualified Americans in asking the Treasury Department to review its process for direct payments. The second round of stimulus checks were overshadowed with glitches and delays, a problem the Biden administration hopes to avoid as they push a e $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill, which would give qualified persons $1,400.
Biden will also ask the Labor Department to make unemployment benefit allowances for workers who refuse employment due to concerns over health risks.
The second order asks federal agencies pay workers a $15-an-hour minimum wage, the standard asking price of equity advocates across the nation. While an increase to the minimum wage will undoubtedly help low income workers, there is still a fight to be had over what constitutes as a living wage in America.
As Joe Biden begins Day 1 of his presidency, the first order of business is to tug the final string attached to the thread of Trump‘s divisive policies, unraveling a slew of policies that helped divide the nation over the last four years.
Biden’s executive actions carry out the vision of his 100-day plan, and will also target Black populations stressed under the weight of two pandemics: racism and the coronavirus.
Like his predecessor Barack Obama who once remarked he would use his “pen” and “telephone” to garner change when he was presented with gridlock from a majority Republican Senate, Biden has set out a series of 17 executive actions, 15 of which are executive orders, which he will sign into action on Wednesday. According to CNN, nine of the 17 actions directly reverse Trump’s policies.
Biden plans to initiate a 100 days federal mask mandate, enforcing social distancing in federal buildings and federal lands. The mandate comes as the death toll from the pandemic rises above 400,000, disproportionately affecting Black and brown communities. Biden will also reinstate the “Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense,” which will help with the response coordination of the virus, the distribution of PPE and other preventative measures. Biden also seeks to extend the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention until at least March 3. The extension will also include foreclosure moratoriums for federally backed mortgages under the Departments of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs.
Biden will end the racist Muslim travel ban on Wednesday. The policy was one of Trump’s first executive orders when he took office in 2017, which restricted travel and immigration to the U.S. from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. He later added several West and East African countries with large Muslim populations including Eritrea, Nigeria, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, and Tanzania in 2020.
Undocumented migrants who live in America will be counted in the next Census, undoing Trump’s summer 2020 order to leave them out of the Census. The switch helps allocate monies for underrepresented communities as well as contributing towards federal representation in Congress.
Another executive action will reinforce the Biden administration’s commitment to DACA, by asking Congress to grant a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, young people who migrated to America with their families often escaping persecution and violence.
Biden will also extend protections for Liberians who are living in the United States under the status of “deferred enforcement departure” until June 2022. The Biden administration plans to divest from building the border wall and will explore the arrest priorities for ICE, reversing a 2017 mandate regarding stricter immigration enforcement.
First on Biden’s docket was dismantling the 1776 Commission report which sought to disenfranchise the role Black Americans played in history, ignoring the racist foundation and ideals that fostered chattel slavery in America.
Under one of the executive actions, the Office of Management and Budget, ran by Susan Rice, will examine federal budgets to ensure that money is being allocated to underserved communities of color.
Another executive action plans to strengthen workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This allows federal protections for members of the LGBTQ community.
Biden will extend the pause payments on student loans until September 30th. Many hope that Biden will make good on his campaign promise to cancel $10,000 but that specific initiative will require the backing of Congress before it can placed into action.